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Case Study – Community 2

Mary & Joe Green live in a quiet cul-de-sac. They have two grown up children who have now left home. Their neighbour, Charmain, has lived next door for 8 years and she has two children, both boys, aged 12 & 13. There have been no previous problems between the families.

Mary & Joe's concerns:

Their neighbour's children are causing a nuisance; they throw rubbish and kick footballs into their garden and up against the fence. They also play football, with other children, in the street and nearby car park.

Mary and Joe now objected to this because of the potential damage to property. They had, on a number of occasions, reprimanded one of Charmain's sons because of his behaviour and in one particular incident Joe frog-marched the son back to his home to face his mother.

Charmain's concerns:

She is a Single mother who is struggling to raise two very lively boys. Her neighbours allow her no privacy and the neighbours keep shouting at her children.

When Charmain's sons were young, Mary encouraged them to climb her fence to retrieve their ball. Mary also was quite protective/motherly towards them, however as they grew older, their activities often involved other children. Joe from next door dragged her son home complaining that he had been misbehaving. Her son was in a very distressed state and Charmain objected to this involvement with her son. Communication between the families had now completely broken down after a number of very heated exchanges and some police involvement.

The Mediation Process

First Visits

Joe and Mary were willing to go to mediation; they wanted to tell Mary a thing or two about bringing up children. The mediators had to explain that the mediation process was not about imposing views and limits on people, more about listening and communicating. They would have an opportunity to put over their concerns.

Charmain was reluctant at first, but was encouraged by the mediators who assured her that they would ensure that she was treated fairly and that Mary and Joe would not be allowed to bully her.

Face-to-Face meeting

It was a very difficult and challenging meeting, there was a lot of anger, but both parties were able to express their concerns. However, a lot of useful information was exchanged and agreements were reached on most issues.

Although too much had happened between them for the relationship to be fully repaired, channels of communication were restored as a means of dealing with any future concerns